Venezuela's Hugo Chavez seems to have lost a little of his bravura recently with reports in the papers today that as his reserves of fuck you money dwindle due to declining oil prices, he is offering the oil companies he once screwed the chance to come back to Venezuela. Bienvenido a Caracas, mis amigos, all is forgiven... er, please forgive me. Now if only we could harness the power of those oil companies to really deliver a lesson.
Imagine for a moment a different world, in which big multinationals committed to a program of not investing in countries that were not dependable democracies or showed disregard for the rule of law. Think of the countries that would be squeezed, forced to change. Now that would really be the power to change the world. Meantime watch: slowly but surely Chavez's chutzpah-laden outreach will bear fruit...as long as there is a safe profit to be made...and he will more than likely be propped up by some of the same people he once abused.
As Putin and Ahmadinejad and Chavez come back to earth, we can take some small pleasure in observing it. But the smartest response is to get our own fiscal and energy house in order. After the last eight years of fiscal insanity and energy inertia, that's a massive task.